Theory: The Cost of Good Living

Let’s say life is the evolution of an individual energy in time, where time translates to the period that accommodates said energy in corporeal form, thus the period we term ‘alive’ opposed to that which is prior to formation; or that which is open to deformation and decease. Energy here is the self through the lens of physical, mental and emotional health. To this live body, what is a good life? Let’s say a good life is an existence in which an energy exists as it ought to. Let's call this energy human and let’s say a good life is the practice of living as a conscious donor and receptor of love, flowing in and out of diverse outlets––in terms we tend to deem good or bad, fair or unfair, but perhaps ought to be simply deemed varieties in ungraspable love––and the practice of accepting this love with grace and gratitude, i.e. not taking anything for granted. Here, the question might be, what does one deserves? Let’s place this theory on the foundation that there is no such thing as what does one deserves? and yet one is in such a way that one deserves everything and this everything is love. Love here is defined as the highest good, i.e. the best thing that could possibly happen to one. Now what is the cost of good living? And how does one afford such living? Here's a theory––which is a bunch of questions/opinions phrased like answers. Let's say good living is living in accordance to one’s highest value, and let’s say this means living honestly or truthfully. And let’s say the consequence of  living truthfully is living lightly which is my way of saying living happily–– as happily as one possibly can: floating. The cost of good living is then the weight of the choices one makes to this effect.

Why does weight translates to cost? Well because the choice of lighter weight does not sink one. It might be heavy for an instant, but only for the instant it is being molded. Once the the act has taken place, the weight disappears. But why does one make choices? Perhaps because we live in time which is mercurial and choking full of variables. Also because there is such a thing as individuality which requires different assortments to satisfy its diverse forms. Choice, then, is necessary to locate the right orbit for the revolution of an individual. Now, how does one choose? Well, one may choose, for instance, to be soul or human, female or black, artist or poet, a confessional poet or a confessional poet who only writes about her toes; thus deciding the spectrum one feels the pull to orbit––unbounded, diverse or specific. Of course the more abstract the choice, the more room it allows one.  But choice must be used to identify the orbit which brings one the most lightness and makes one feel the most contented. So for certain persons, happiness lies in being a confessional poet who only writes about her toes, whereas for other persons, happiness lies in being an individual who considers himself mostly a human being.

Now, the reward being happiness, which is what is being termed good living, one must ask what is happiness? Does happiness means one laughs from sunrise to sunset? Or that one never feels an ache or that one never desires? I don’t believe happiness means laughing from sunrise to sunset. To exist in such a state would require some serious self-deception. Moreover, the concept of laughing always sounds like a disease or a fairytale that would probably bore one to sleep, unless one was made especially for such a way of being. Of course, it is possible that such a state exists and I know nothing of it. But if such a state exists, I do not desire it which therefore means that I have not what it takes to value such an existence. It doesn’t seem to me that as human beings it is in our advantage to be laughing from sunrise to sunset, every day––perchance there is something wrong with me. However, I think happiness is knowing when to laugh and laughing heartily when it is time to laugh, then crying as merrily when it is time to cry. Happiness is understanding that beauty does not always feel pleasant and welcoming this. Happiness is being able to appreciate the ability to laugh hard and not burst, or cry hard and not turn into a lake, or get out of bed when it is the last thing one desires. Happiness is the ability to grasp and appreciate the fact that one wakes, one eats and one sleeps to a wondrous song which is always there yet unknown. That one lives and one dies and perhaps it is the very same thing and it is all very beautiful. Happiness is understanding that there is no need to possess anything and that everything worth possessing is already existing inside one. Happiness means giving up anxiety about the things outside your control and dedicating more energy to that which makes you light, and if this means writing poems about your toes then so be it. Happiness, therefore, is not something to chase, but something we surrender to.

Let’s get back to the question, what is the cost of good living? If happiness is something one surrenders to, if living well is finding the right orbit to evolve and being contented doing so, then the cost of good living is lower than the cost of bad living. For good living only requires that one surrenders to what one already is whereas bad living requires that one fights what one is. To fight a battle that ought not to be fought, a battle that can never be won, would keep one very busy and very unhappy. Whereas to become that which one already is costs little and rewards everything. Thus the cost of good living is very affordable because it only requires that one stops pretending to be what one is not and that one starts trying to be conscious of what one is. It means that if one is finding the cost of good living to be unaffordable then one is fighting rather than surrendering. If one is miserable, it means one is trying to be what one is not, rather then allowing oneself to become conscious of what one is and practicing love and joy in this being.

I heard somewhere that one ought not to listen to anyone below the age of 45 on how to live well. It made me laugh. One thing I have experienced over and over and over again is that the physical age of human beings means very little. There exist ten year olds that have a maturity that a 65 years old person lacks. One can learn about life from everyone, and in fact, one ought to learn about life not only from everyone but from everything. Not just through the things that immediately appeals to one, but also that which is seemingly appalling and repulsive. One must always meet others with a readiness to learn from them: as one says hello to another, one ought to mean, what are you going to teach me (about myself). But also one must look at everything with the question, can I afford this? Will it sink me or free me? If it feels affordable it means it is something worth leaning towards. And how does one know if a life event is affordable? My guess is that it pulls one, for this has been my experience in practice.

Jane A. Odartey


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